It was around 3:30 a.m. on Monday Oct. 24 when junior journalism major Kathleen Ory awoke to a crisp, cracking noise and the smell of smoke. After several seconds of sleepy confusion, Ory realized she needed to act quickly â€” as far as she could see, the buildings around her were â€œengulfed by flames.â€
Beyond getting herself, her cat and her car away from the Penny Flats fire, Ory said there wasnâ€™t much to do but watch the flames with her neighbors from a safe distance away.
â€œAfter a few hours sitting there thinking how scary something like that is, it started hitting me,â€ Ory said. â€œIt was pretty hard to see.â€
It was in October of last year that Oryâ€™s parents closed on the apartment and, according to her, it was only a few weeks before the fire that they were able to pay for the condo in full.
Although Penny Flats residents come from all walks of life, and have diverse personalities and interests, according to Ory, this fire brought them closer together.
And after a week of uncertainty and waiting, the group was able to assemble together Monday afternoon at the Penny Flats complex in order to retrieve some of the items they were forced to leave behind.
Sporting yellow and white construction helmets for safety, residents worked quickly to bring their belongings out from inside the building to the refuge of their cars.
However, because their apartment was on the fourth floor, Ory and her roommate Saira Taylor were only allowed to describe their items to professionals who could safely go up to the top floor to get them.
It wasnâ€™t only residents of Penny Flats who banded together to support one another either. Community members who knew the displaced pitched in to support them.
Both Ory and Taylor are members of the CSU chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma and as such, according to sorority president Mary Butterfield, the entire Greek community has reached out to provide supplies like clothing, toiletries and food.
After finding out about the fire at around 8 a.m. Monday morning, the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma headed to the Foothills mall to purchase clothing and supplies to set up rooms for both Taylor and Ory.
â€œIt was a whole Greek community support system that came through for them,â€ Butterfield said.
In addition to the Greek effort, seven local boutiques are holding an event to support the fire victims, in which proceeds from this week will go directly to the Penny Flats victims.
According to Avriel Agnello, local boutique owner, the fire affected both her customers and her friends, so holding this event for Penny Flats residents was her first instinct.
Collegian writer Sarah Fenton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.